Literary Reputations

Sarah Bakewell

At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails

  • 15
  • Oct




Image of Sarah Bakewell in front of a grey industrial building in the background, and a river in the foregroundPietro Ficai-Veltroni


Can you make a philosophy out of a cocktail? A group of intellectuals inhabiting the cafes of 1930s Montparnasse saw their new, radical way of thinking blaze through Europe like a wildfire and change the world. Sarah Bakewell’s riveting new book At the Existentialist Café presents Modern Existentialism as a series of passionate encounters between people and ideas, beginning with Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and expanding out to include friends, adversaries and fellow travellers such as Camus, Heidegger, and Iris Murdoch. The Telegraph said of it, ‘vivid, humorous anecdotes are interwoven with a lucid and unpatronising exposition of their complex philosophy… Tender, incisive and fair.’

Sarah Bakewell is the author of three biographies, including How to Live: A Life of Montaigne, which won the National Book Critics Circle Biography award and was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award. Introduced by Matthew Frost.